Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos similar to Halloween

Sofía Gilmore-Montero, News Editor

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The Day of the Dead is a holiday celebrated in central and southern Mexico on Nov. 1 and 2.  The day is viewed as being similar to Halloween, which is celebrated on Oct. 31 in several countries, and has roots in pagan celebrations for the end of the harvest season and the Celtic Samhain festivities.

It coincides with the Catholic holiday known as All Souls Day due to the indigenous people combining their own beliefs of honoring ancestors with the Catholic customs brought by the conquistadors.   

According to Mexican tradition, on Nov. 1st, the gates of heaven open at midnight, and the spirits of deceased children are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours.  On Nov. 2, the souls of adults return to the world of the living to enjoy the festivities that are set up for them.   

In most villages, altars are made in each home, decorated with candles, flowers, tequila or mezcal, sugar skulls called calaveras, fruit, nuts, mole, tortillas and Day of the Dead breads called pan de muerto.  The altars are decorated with the favorites of the ancestors due to the belief that happy spirits provide protection and good luck.  

On Nov. 2, the celebrations are taken to the cemeteries, where families clean the tombs, play cards and reminisce.  

This year, the foreign languages wing hosted an altar in honor of the late Dr. Eliza Ghil, who passed away recently.  The altar had many items that she loved, including an Italian opera CD, a bottle of Chianti and French candies.  

Dia de los Muertos has been celebrated for several years on campus.  “LASA, Latin American Student Association, together with CBEC, College of Business Executive Council, and Diversity Affairs, started this event a couple of years ago to participate in UNO’s Diversity Celebration,” wrote Ms. Peggy Gaffney, Director of Diversity Affairs, in an email to Driftwood.  

“LASA is not active this semester, so this Day of the Dead event was undertaken by CBEC and the Diversity Engagement Center,” continued Gaffney.  

According to Gaffney, about 100-120 people attended the event.  

If students are interested, they should contact the Diversity Engagement Center in UC 201B.

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About the Writer
Sofía Gilmore-Montero, News Editor & Distribution Manager

Sofía Gilmore-Montero

Part of the Driftwood staff since August 2017, Sofia is double-majoring in Spanish and English and will be graduating in December 2018. Outside of on-campus responsibilities, she is either babysitting or
making her boyfriend watch NCIS reruns! She is obsessed with Viking and Irish things –
history, artifacts, music, basically every part of the rich Irish culture. “My favorite part about being in the Driftwood team is that we’re like a family- you’d think that staying late on Press Night would be completely miserable, but it’s only mostly awful because you have your friends there making you laugh the entire night.”


You can contact her [email protected] with suggestions for what you’d like to see in the Driftwood or distribution inquiries!

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Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos similar to Halloween